Since its debut in the arcades in 1988, the Ninja Gaiden series has been a fan favourite, both in the arcades and at home. Now the series makes the (silent, catlike) leap to the next generation with Ninja Gaiden Sigma on PlayStation 3.
You play the Ninja Ryu Hayabusa, who must retrieve the Dark Dragon Blade - an evil sister sword to his own weapon made from the bones of a dark dragon and containing an unfathomable evil. It's not going to be a walk in the park however, or even a silent run along the rooftops, as you face off against demon ninjas, apocalyptic horsemen and nunchuck-wielding kung fu masters. And that's just the first level...
Full of (throwing) stars
Gameplay takes the form of a third person action adventure that sees you controlling your shuriken-wielding death dealer through a variety of different levels, ranging from a peaceful Japanese village to a huge Zeppelin flying thousands of feet above the ground. Naturally, being a ninja, Ryu is a dab hand at running up walls, backflipping all over the place and dispatching enemies with his trusty Dragon Sword. Combat is based on combos, and different button presses produce different results depending on the weapon you are using.
As you progress through the game you can find and purchase new weapons, ranging from nunchaku to bows and arrows and the awesome Dragon's Claw and Tiger's Fang - twin blades that look amazing as well as being extremely powerful. In addition to these, Ryu is able to learn new attack techniques, as well as harnessing the forces of the Ninpo - ninja magic used to attack enemies or shield the user from damage. The force of these Ninpo attacks can even be amplified by shaking the SIXAXIS Wireless Controller, mimicking Ryu's movements in the game.
The thing that really stands out about Ninja Gaiden Sigma is the sheer pace of the gameplay. You are constantly being attacked by multiple enemies, and it can seem overwhelming at first. But once you get used to the intuitive control system you'll be battling enemies and flipping off walls like a pro. The game has a rewarding learning curve, gradually pitting you against tougher and tougher enemies until you won't think twice about squaring off against giant mutant cyborgs or trigger-happy hordes of Special Forces troops.
Fiend or foe?
One significant new addition to Ninja Gaiden Sigma is the ability to play as Rachel, a Fiend Hunter armed with a huge golden axe. Rachel's missions revolve around slaying demons, and, not being a ninja, her attacks and special moves are completely different to Ryu's. As well as helping to break up the gameplay, Rachel's missions flesh out the story of Ninja Gaiden as we see the events of the game from a different perspective.
Once you complete the game, you are rewarded with the Mission mode where you can play as Ryu or Rachel as you come up against various opponents from the game, as well as unlocking interchangeable costumes and an even harder difficulty level. You can also upload your high scores to see how you stack up against other ninjas across the world.
The game looks absolutely gorgeous on PlayStation 3, running at a smooth 60 frames per second in stunning 1080p High Definition. The sheer level of detail on the characters, environments and lighting is breathtaking - truly marking Ninja Gaiden Sigma out as a next generation title.
A compelling story, amazing graphics, a stirring soundtrack and top quality ninja gameplay all make Ninja Gaiden Sigma a must-have title for any self-respecting shadow warrior. If you're a fan of the series then you should need no convincing, and if you've never played a Ninja Gaiden game before, now's the time to start.